Any student who is interested in becoming a part of the Lake Erie College Storm Athletic Program has been to a game on campus, or has followed it online or on the Storm Athletics Twitter account. Or maybe they have shopped for official Storm gear online. Either way, any student-athlete is familiar with the work of Jason Tirotta.
Jason is the assistant athletic director for external operations for the Lake Erie Storm, and in his role he oversees or has a significant role in several different areas within the athletic department. These include information and marketing/promotions, athletic media relations, branding and graphic representation, licensing, LakeErieStorm.com website and its social media components, corporate partnerships, Storm Club boosters and fundraising, and the Storm sports Radio Network. The Lowellville, Ohio native and Baldwin-Wallace graduate has been at LEC since August 2009, when he brought valuable experience from working on all three levels of NCAA to campus—he had spent three years each at the Division III Hiram College and at the Division I Kent State before joining the Storm.
"I was fortunate enough to connect with our director of athletics Griz Zimmermann through a mutual connection,” Jason said of his coming to LEC, "and had the opportunity to discuss with him an opening on his staff. At the time I was working outside of college athletics, but after meeting with Griz and hearing about the growth of the [athletic] department and his vision for the future of Storm Athletics, I decided that this could be a great opportunity for me both professionally and personally to take on a leadership role within a growing department and be a part of something special here. It was something I wanted to be a part of.”
Jason began his work in higher education while still a freshman in college, when he got a job as a work-study student in the Sports Information and College Relations offices, and also did radio play-by-play for the baseball, basketball and football teams on the campus radio station. His graduation nearing, however, he did not know which way to continue his career. He began applying for graduate assistantships nationwide, when a tragedy struck his close-knit family—his father passed away. "At that time I immediately shifted my focus to looking for opportunities to be closer to home and my family to help through a difficult time,” he said. "I was very fortunate that a position at Hiram, which was about an hour from where I grew up, became available.” Jason interviewed for the position right before graduation, and in July 2001 he started work as the youngest sports information director in the country.
When he arrived on the LEC campus in 2009, Jason found himself in the middle of an athletic program that was growing and entering Division II. Now that the transition has been completed and LEC is a successful member of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) in Division II, he appreciates his experience with the College.
"[It provided me with] the opportunity to make an impact, even if it is a small one, in the lives of our students as well as the opportunity to work with, learn from and connect with some great people here on campus and in the community.”
Working with the student-athletes in a successful Division II program certainly has its perks. "One of the great things about my job is that I get to publicize and share with the world some of the outstanding accomplishments of our student-athletes,” Jason said. "And in addition to sharing the news about national champions, All-Americans, Major League Baseball draft picks, etc., I get to talk with the students a little bit and get to know them and their stories. Everyone is different and interesting”
His passion for athletics is more than just present in his career, as it has also carried through in his personal life and hobbies. Jason has been on the campuses of 42 different colleges in Ohio, attended major league baseball games in 19 different stadiums and gone to NCAA Division I football games in 21 different stadiums. "[I have] travelled to a dozen different countries, with Ireland next on the list;” he said, "run two marathons; hit a three-pointer from the corner at Cameron Indoor Stadium and The Palestra; met and posed for pictures with Scarlett Johansson; spent a summer eating lunch every day in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium; and been featured in a nationally syndicated column for my t-shirt collection (which numbers between 200-300).”
Yet even after having all of these great experiences, there are still plenty of others he is looking forward to. "I still haven’t attended a baseball fantasy camp, taken batting practice on the field in a big-league stadium, written a sitcom or movie script, or served as an extra in a TV show or a movie,” Jason said. "But those are all on my bucket list.”
Outside the office he enjoys spending time with his wife, Amanda, their newborn daughter Delaney and their Chihuahua Diego, traveling, grilling and taking care of his lawn.What would his advice be to any prospective students looking to join the Storm? "Lake Erie College, or any school you choose, for that matter, will provide you with many opportunities to have an outstanding educational experience—in and out of the classroom,” he said. "It is up to you [to] take full advantage of those opportunities. There are great people here who want to see you succeed and are willing to help guide you in that direction. But only if [you] have the right attitude and the desire to get the most out of yourself, will you get the most out of LEC. Rage On!”